Twin Falls…duh…!
Springbrook NP overlook
Purling Brook Falls-600 ft !

In the weeks after landing and adjusting to the southern hemisphere, we’ve begun to get out and about a bit more within a few hours of Brisbane. Queensland is blessed with an amazing 2000 mile coastline, fronting a fertile coastal plain and backed up by the forested mountains of the Great Dividing Range. These mountains catch most of the moisture coming in off the Coral Sea and are spectacularly lush and diverse. Over the range, the dry side stretches on for thousands of miles, gradually transitioning from drier open eucalypt and pine forest, through grazing rangeland and finally out into the vast, arid outback of lore and legend. We haven’t made it out that way yet…In short, a vast, diverse series of habitats, much of which has been preserved in an assortment of parks and preserves. Queensland alone has something like 75 National Parks.. We hope to visit as many as possible. Here are a few shots of several, esp. Springbrook and Glass House Mountains, both remnants of Australia’s volcanic past, some 20-30 million years ago, and seemingly right out of the Lost World. Enjoy the scenery…!

Collapsed volcano escarpment defines the border, QLD to L, NSW to R
200-300 ft Escarpment with Rainforest below and Eucalypt forest above
A waterfall thru a cave and the cave has glow worms.. how cool is that…?

Numimbah Valley
Glasshouse Mnts and pineapple fields
Entering Springbrook plateau
Park facilities, paths, infrastructure all world class
“I’m giving off good vibrations…”

OK, so a bit of an aside in tonight’s musings.. Confession: I’m an avid guitar player; a semi-serious, gradually improving, never gonna be a Rock Star but I just love it kind of player…I love all guitars, even really crappy ones, as they each have a distinct voice and maybe something to teach you, if you give them a chance…like people in a way…So heading down to the humid semi-tropics, I left all my good guitars back at the farm in New York…Hit the Aussie coastline, set some stuff up, and next priority was to find a guitar…Anything to get my finger-jones worked out…All you musicians know what I’m referring to’s like an itch…and I was getting itchy. I tried Craig’s List down here, almost a ghost town.. Somehow I linked up with this site, and that’s where everybody was.. Who knew..?  Look it up, it’s free.. So after a few non-starters, I linked up with some guy in a non-descript, working class suburb of Brisbane..tired, but not exactly seedy.. He pulls out this musty, dusty old Yamaha 12 string with strings you could literally feel the rust on.. Last changed in the mid-70’s.. Weird thing was, the thing weighed a ton, a proverbial brick house. The woods were amazingly high quality; very fine-grained solid spruce top, full grain rosewood back and sides..Almost unavailable today at any cost… No loose braces or joints, straight neck… The thing sounded like shit….$250 Australian, no dickering.. I bought it, not wanting to visit any more such neighborhoods in a strange land. After all, I had a guitar… ! Done..Took it home, gave the fingerboard a nice drink of mineral oil, cleaned ‘er up, brand new set of strings.. Oh, BTW, in 30 years of playing, I have never changed an entire set of 12 strings..A real organizational and tuning challenge.. You should really try it, it’s a life list sort of experience, seriously….Now a funny thing happened, and it’s happening still.. On first session the guitar seemed stiff and tentative, the strings all sproingy and overly resonant. Plus, as any player knows, new strings slip out of tune and stretch a lot before they settle down.. I just tuned it back up to standard and let it rest.. The next day better, more resonant and warmer, but still stiff and lacking dimension. Now, almost a week into daily play, an amazing thing has happened; something discussed a fair amount but that I’ve not witnessed so starkly personally. This well built instrument, after lying fallow for 20 years, but with good structure intact, is waking up; coming back to life under my fingertips…I’m learning it’s ways, and it’s subtle strengths; it, in turn, is responding to my explorations..Our harmonics are converging and we are aligning our frequencies…or something…I know it may sound all west-coast zen-y and even ridiculous to a non-player, but it is happening…I am listening to it’s voice, and it is teaching me. It’s not remotely the same instrument it was one week ago…it has regained it’s voice and it is singing….

Well the shipping arrived through Customs today. Three weeks later than we’d planned…” No worries mate…”  Though that single pair of shorts sure was getting funky… So, as promised, some critter photos for your entertainment below…

A local neighbor, just hangin’ out..
Land Mullet, 2 ft long. The missing link between lizard and fish…? Mmmm, scaly….

Lace Monitor, 4 ft, but harmless

Brahminy Kite
White Ibis, aka Australian Seagull

The kids are starting at the local Catholic school, Star of the Sea. About half of all Aussie kids attend non-public schools, and the Government subsidizes the choice..Uniforms mandatory, including sun hats…Individual uniforms identify school affiliation. Very Brit….

Then, on returning home in the rain, we find this five foot PYTHON (ISYN!) in the front garden..A good luck omen for the school year, or perhaps something more sinister…? Claire’s 11 year old classmate was rather blase on hearing the news..” Oh yeah, you’ll see them around the house, but not usually when it’s raining….”   I love this country…:-O.
PS- Watch out for those pythons now…ddu
Serpentine proof- I risked life n’ limb to record this….

A Brief update, and still no Koala photos….Shipping still held up in customs……can’t wait to get hold of my old Toshiba laptop with actual, honest to goodness USB ports…Call me old school, but at least then I can hitch up my camera direct and download a few photos for you kind folks to see. There is a real downside to all these newfangled, Wifi only, too thin (and hip) for even a micro USB port or an SDcard slot….sorry, not to Apple-bash here, but….uh hmmm, your connectivity just plain sucks… there I said it, promised myself I wouldn’t go there, but….I did, and will now move on….Except, did I also tell you how much I hate not having a backspace erase too…It’s just not that hard….or am I missing something here…? Someone, please enlighten me….. we have been busy visiting amazing National Parks in SE Queensland, esp. Springbrook, a massive, collapsed volcano crater with rainforest-clad cliffs and 600 ft waterfalls right out of the Lost World. also, the Glasshouse Mountain N.P. Google the name for some stunning scenery. Well, enough of my rants and faves…I promise some catch-up photos once shipping arrives this week… Best, ddu

Sorry for being out of touch…still trying to get unpacked and rewired. I blog from the local library on the 15 minute meter….Though we’ve only been in country for one week, it feels like months have passed… I suppose that’s to be expected when so many new experiences are being flashed before you at every turn….. Especially after being awake 36 plus hours in transit, then driving from the airport with all traffic coming at you from unexpected angles, followed by the inevitable “mega-crash” into deep sleep and a resetting of the biological clock..I still can’t figure out how we lost Monday January 2, 2012…Literally…Flew out of LAX at 2345 on New Year’s Day and arrived 0730 on Tuesday Jan 3rd, after flying for 14.5 hrs…Hmmmm…Can someone else figure it all out and get back to me please…Disorienting for sure…perhaps we travel less well as we age….
 So, Arrival, then Awakening into mid-summer, hot, stunning sunshine, a plethora of strange, exotic birds with unfamiliar voices; Rainbow Lorikeets , Kookaburra, Herons and various raucous Parrots…and of course the foreign scented Eucalypts and their attendant Koalas…. Actually saw two in a local park on our first foray to do so….and one running on the ground, apparently to move to a shadier tree… The kids wanted to go find Koalas, and voila, photographic evidence of same below….As they sleep some 22 of every 24 hrs… we were quite lucky indeed.
But so as not to mislead our readership; even with the generally clean, well-kempt and designed public spaces around Cleveland and greater Brisbane in general, this is NOT paradise in reality…Very nice yes, paradise, well not exactly.. One observation gleaned over 30 plus years of travel is that US-style fast food, strip malls and the attendant obesity epidemic is a world-wide, metastasizing problem… Born in the good old U.S.A… and coming soon to a village near you… Much more on this later hopefully, but let’s just say, it’s not one of our more beneficent exports….. And the Aussies, being essentially a Celtic culture at core, sure do love their sweets, snacks and even fish n’ chips.. The most startling image so far; picture if you will, 90+ degrees, baking hot like lizards at the community pool, and a family actually had a doughnut maker, complete with mini-deep fat fryer, at their picnic lunch…..Hmmmm 🙁 (*#**^!?!…).  More on food issues to come….but some fat to chew on ’til then…. For now, Cheers! ddc

Oh, PS, no pictures of Koalas and other interesting things at this time. I have just been informed by the librarian, I can’t do that…(I can’t wait to get re-wired at home, but in the meantime, one thing I have learned, you never want to piss off your local librarian…).